Obama Signs Stimulus Bill
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Well, it doesn't get much bigger than today for President Obama.
President BARACK OBAMA: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I will sign today, a plan that meets the principles I laid out in January, is the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.
BLOCK: In a ceremony in Denver, the president signed the economic stimulus bill into law. The package, totaling some $787 billion in tax breaks and spending now goes into effect in an attempt to fire up the economy. The hope is that the new law will create or save more than three million jobs. NPR's White House correspondent Scott Horsley is traveling with the president. He joins us now from Denver. And Scott, first of all, why Denver?
SCOTT HORSLEY: Well, Melissa, it's not Washington, D.C. It's 1,689 miles away from all the political strife that led up to the passage of this bill. And getting outside the nation's capital allows the president to focus not so much on the politics but on the economic impact of this measure. And that's something we're told that the president will be doing more of in the days and weeks to come. As for why Denver in particular, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said this area has become a crossroads of clean energy. And one of the things that the stimulus bill is designed to encourage with some $50 billion in funding is green energy, alternative energy, energy efficiency.
The museum that serves as a backdrop for the signing has a big solar roof on it - solar collecting panel on its roof. And the president climbed up there to inspect that before he signed the bill.
BLOCK: And the bill, Scott, is supposed to encourage consumer spending and also create jobs, as we mentioned. How do you calculate this? When does the first dollar show up in the economy? How quickly might we start to see an impact from this law?
HORSLEY: Well, remember, the bill has two elements. The government spending is part of it and then tax cuts is another part. As part of the government spending, they wanted to have all those shovel-ready projects so that the money could be spent as quickly as possible. And the administration has promised that 75% of it will be spent in the next 18 months.
Some outsiders were skeptical of that. But one of the biggest, earliest impacts may be the tax cuts. A signature piece of the president's campaign platform was this making work pay tax cut that's going to translate into a few more dollars in working families' paychecks. That will start showing up in just a few months. And it's going to be not a huge sum, may be $13 a week for a typical worker.
But the hope is that because it's a regular, something that shows up week after week, paycheck after paycheck, people will be more inclined to spend it and re-circulate that money than if it were a one-time lump sum payment.
BLOCK: The Obama administration has called this stimulus package just one piece of an overall economic recovery plan, one leg of the stool, as they say. What comes next?
HORSLEY: Tomorrow the president will be in Arizona to talk about his foreclosure mitigation plan. We've been hearing about as many as 10,000 foreclosures a day, until some of the big banks put a halt to that, just recently, while they wait to see what the government does. Today, the president also talked about other legs of the stool being financial regulation to prevent this kind of meltdown from happening again. And then, over the longer term, addressing the nation's deficit - trying to get the fiscal House in order.
President Obama said today that the signing of the stimulus measure is not the end of our economic troubles, but to sort of paraphrase Winston Churchill, he said, it is the beginning of the end.
BLOCK: Okay, NPR's Scott Horsley in Denver. Scott, thanks very much.
HORSLEY: Good to be with you.